Boy Scouts of America refuse to meet with mom ousted for being gay

Ohio community stands by Jennifer Tyrrell after Boy Scouts of America defend discrimination via statement; Over 130,000 Americans join Change.org action in support of Tyrrell; Fellow parents say Tyrrell did 'wonderful job'

Rich Ferraro
Director of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8011
ferraro@glaad.org

April 24, 2012
New York, NY, April 24, 2012 - GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today responded to a statement that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) gave to CNN.com. The Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its discriminatory policies that led to the removal of Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell as scout leader of her 7-year-old son’s troop because she is gay.
 
GLAAD reached out to the Boy Scouts of America to offer a meeting between BSA and Tyrrell yesterday, but the organization refused via e-mail.
 
In a statement to CNN’s LZ Granderson today, BSA’s Director of Public Relations, Deron Smith said the following:
"Our focus is on delivering the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Our mission does not include teaching young people about sex or sexual orientation, and we do not believe it is Scouting's role to introduce this topic in our youth development program."
In response to the BSA’s statement, parents of children in Pack 109 spoke out in support of Tyrrell’s record and noted that Jen did not ever make her sexual orientation an issue. See quotes below.

Granderson’s full story is available here: http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/24/opinion/granderson-gay-den-leader/

Over 130,000 people have signed Tyrrell’s Change.org action calling on the BSA to end its history of discrimination against LGBT people. Supporters can join Tyrrell’s call here: http://change.org/scouts. A video of Jen sharing her story at the GLAAD Media Awards is available here: http://youtube.com/glaad. Celebrities including Josh Hutcherson, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, as well as Glee stars Max Adler and Grant Gustin also showed support for Tyrrell and her family at the GLAAD Media Awards.

“The Boy Scouts are supposed to have a platform of tolerance, acceptance, and support -- values that drew my son Cruz to be a scout, and that drew me to want to be a den leader,” Tyrrell told the crowd at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards on Saturday. “Yet by continuing to dismiss gay youth and gay leaders from their organization, the Boy Scouts of America is failing these values, harming families and communities by sending a message that all are not welcome.”

“The only ‘character development’ and ‘values-based leadership training’ the Boy Scouts have taught our young people in this case is that blatant discrimination is OK,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “Tossing aside the hard work and leadership of a committed mom because of who she loves is not a ‘value’ that a majority Americans want taught to their children.”

CNN’s Granderson and GLAAD also released the responses of other parents from Tyrrell’s community.

Said fellow parent Robert Dunn:

"I'm not a city person. I'm just a backwoods hick, and I don't think anybody around here have an issue with homosexuals. She did a wonderful job, and what they did to her was just horrible. When I told my son Jen was kicked out because she is gay, he didn't know what was wrong because he thought gay meant happy. He's just devastated."

Said Don Thomas, whose grandson is a scout in Tyrrell’s pack, said either he or his wife has been to "every cub scout meeting my grandson has attended, also to every function, community event, Salvation Army ringing bells, collection of food for the needy...etc. I do not know where you are getting your information, but never ever has sex been brought up, not in any way shape or form. In fact, I was not aware of Jen even being gay for quite some time...wasn't an issue or concern."

Said parent Crystal Sabinsky:

"The boys knew her as Tiger Leader Jen, not Gay Tiger Leader Jen. They are only first graders. Most don't even understand what 'gay' or 'lesbian' mean."

Said parent Patty Morgan:

"It has been brought to my attention that BSA is now saying that the boys were being taught about sex and other inappropriate subject matter. Those accusations are not true at all. I have three children in Scouts. My youngest Jordan, was a Tiger scout with Jen. Jen has been a great leader in our scouting family. I trust her with my children completely. It is sad that she must be defended against false accusations like these!"

Among service organizations, the Boy Scouts are increasingly isolating themselves with their prohibition on gay youth and leaders. Organizations including the Girl Scouts of America, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, as well as the 4H Club all welcome gay kids as well as adult leaders. And just this month, the president of the James Beard Foundation announced that she would rescind her acceptance of the Boy Scouts’ Distinguished Citizen Award, noting the Scouts’ policy prohibiting gay people from service and leadership.